Sebi had warned the company and its directors of initiating prosecution proceedings and a criminal case for “offences of fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds” if its orders are not complied with
press trust of india
MUMBAI, 22 JUNE: In a fresh crackdown against ‘collective investment schemes’, Sebi has asked Alchemist Infra Realty Ltd to wind up all such activities and refund the money collected from public investors, which could be more than Rs 1,000 crore, within three months.
Besides, the company and its five directors have also been barred from the securities market till the time all its schemes are wound up and the money is refunded to investors.
In its order dated 21 June, Sebi has also warned the company and its directors of initiating prosecution proceedings and a criminal case for “offences of fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds” if its orders are not complied with.
The Sebi probe also found that the investment application forms of the company mentioned that it was part of ‘Alchemist Group’, which was engaged in diverse activities such as steel, food and beverages, IT, healthcare, media, aviation, realty, hospitality, education and tea estate, among others, with asset base of over Rs 5,000 crore.
“Thus, an investor/applicant is misled to believe that the company, Alchemist Infra Realty Ltd, is part of the Alchemist Group, whereas the company has contended (before Sebi) that it is not associated with the Alchemist Group,” the Sebi order said. The said ‘Alchemist Group’ is headed by industrialist Mr KD Singh, currently a Rajya Sabha MP of Trinamool Congress from Jharkhand.
Sebi began its investigations into the affairs of the company in 2011 after receipt of an anonymous complaint about Alchemist Infra Realty Ltd mobilising money from the public in breach of regulations.
The regulator later found that the company was running ‘collective investment schemes’ in the name of real estate business and had garnered Rs 1,087 crore as on 31 March 2011.
The company was charging up to 75 per cent as ‘development charges’ from the money collected from investors towards purchase of land.
During the initial probe, the company refused to provide details sought by Sebi, saying the regulator did not have a jurisdiction and it was not running any Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) business. Alchemist Infra later provided some details to Sebi after repeated reminders and Sebi issued show-cause notices to the company and its directors in 2012.
In the meantime, the company sought to settle the case through Sebi’s consent mechanism, but the plea was rejected by the regulator. The company also approached Jharkhand High Court in Ranchi in February this year, but the court dismissed its petition through an order dated 10 May and asked Sebi to conclude its inquiry and pass an order within six weeks.
The company filed another petition before Delhi High Court on 4 June in the matter, after which it was asked to reply to Sebi’s show-cause notice by 11 June.
In its reply, the company maintained that Sebi did not have any jurisdiction over its activities and it was not running any CIS business.